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September 16, 2013

Walmart Touts Free Layaways But Quietly Adds Cancellation Fee

Filed under: Electronics,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:58 am

Retailers are making a big push to promote early holiday shopping. Kmart began TV advertising last week, and Toys-R-US just announced modified store policies. And Walmart started promoting its holiday layaway plan:

Walmart layaways

“This time it’s free,” the ad boasts. This refers to the fact that last year Walmart charged a $5 fee to initiate a layaway, but they reimbursed that fee to shoppers at the end by giving them a $5 gift card.

What Walmart doesn’t tout is another inconspicuous change.


Walmart cancellation fee

Yep. They have introduced a $10 cancellation fee which is imposed if the consumer cancels the purchase. It is also triggered if all the payments are not made or if the item is not picked up by December 13.

No one is disputing Walmart’s right to add a cancellation fee, particularly if they have taken the shopper’s goods off the selling floor for three months. What is interesting, however, is that their marketing folks have taken a net negative change to the layaway plan (the $10 cancellation fee) and essentially no change to their start fee (since it was rebated), and turned it into a positive advertising campaign.


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  1. I think this is a fair campaign. Layaway should not be a service with no consequences. The consequences should be heavy enough to matter but not so heavy that they deter the use of the service. If layaway was free then customers could take advantage of it and Walmart could lose money.

    It is still manipulation of the fine print, so appropriate for this column, but nothing that bad.

    Comment by Wayne R — September 16, 2013 @ 10:09 am
  2. Not sure I understand this one, if you cancel there is a $10 fee. So, why not pay for the item then return it if you don’t want it? I hope they wouldn’t charge for that.

    I didn’t realize people still used layaway.

    Comment by James — September 16, 2013 @ 10:24 am
  3. Caveat emptor 🙂

    Comment by Jamie — September 16, 2013 @ 10:08 pm
  4. So if I lay away a $15 blender I get nicked $10? If I lay away a $2,000 home entertainment center I still get nicked only $10? Wal-Mart has it all wrong. To correctly screw over the consumer make that fee a percentage of the cost of the item. And I thought they were a retailing genius.

    Comment by Rick — September 17, 2013 @ 8:34 am
  5. The reasons for NOT shopping at “Walmart” are too numerous (for me anyway) to list; however, if you insist, I like ‘Jame’s” comment. Buy it (if relatively inexpensive) and then return it. However, your comment about: “I didn’t think people still used layaway” came across as elitist! Not everyone [edited] can pull out a credit card or pay for their entire purchase at once. BTW, those who are so brainwashed about WALMART having the “cheapest” prices–continue to be delusional–they’re NOT. Studies have shown comparison prices and WM is NOT on the top of the list. So, ‘caveat emptor’ to the people who continue to shop there; you’re being duped!

    Comment by Bev of Boston, MA — September 18, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

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